Nature and technology? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of being nature?
Well, yes and no. Obviously you don’t want technology to take the place of time in nature and looking with your eyes. However, let’s face it, many of us didn’t grow up doing “nature study” ourselves and a little help can be, well, helpful.
Of course physical nature guides like these are wonderful to learn from and to use, but sometimes they can be a bit heavy to take on the trail.
Here are some top apps for nature study to give you a little hand. It’s like having Mother Nature on speed dial!
Easily identify birds by answering 5 questions or by snapping a photo. Listen to bird calls, view images of male, female and juvenile birds, and much more. Designed by bird lovers for bird lovers from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Merlin Bird ID currently includes bird identification help for the United States with regional packs for the: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Texas and Oklahoma, Alaska, and West Coast.
Cornell Lab also sponsors a global online database of bird records used by hundreds of thousands of birders around the world called eBird.
Just snap a picture of a flower, leaf or mushroom and quickly identify it with this app from Earth.com. Use it to id flowers, trees, succulents, mushrooms, cacti and more!
The app will auto-detect when you are in the perfect position to take a picture for accurate results. The database includes more than 585,000 species and is 94% accurate and constantly improving. This app is by far the most popular of its type with a 4.3 rating from over 21,000 reviews. There are other free ones but they did not get good reviews.
If you want to take your nature study social, join this community of nature lovers and scientists to crowdsource learning. iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.
Because of the interactive nature of the app you can become a citizen scientist and contribute to researchers understanding of nature in your area. Snap a picture, record what it is or review suggestions if you aren’t sure and share.
Search areas near you to see what others are finding or look for images of specific plants or creatures. This would be handy to check before you plan your next hike! I found people were using it on the trail near my house so I know what I will be looking for when we go on our next walk.
If technology is just not for you, my favorite hike-ready guides are these Pocket Naturalist Guides. They have state-specific guides as well as different types–birds, bugs, animals, etc. Also, they are waterproof and foldable. You can also find them at nature centers often.
Of course, after you identify your findings from nature either on your apps for nature study or in a book, you can always sit down with a lovely journal or sketchbook and spend time drawing and recording thoughts about your treasures.
For more lovely thoughts on nature notebooking, check out Nicole at Sabbath Mood’s post.
What are your favorite apps for nature study and other resources?